Friday, February 11, 2011
The latest snow surveys show that the Merced watershed courses snowpack has 142% of average water content. Runoff in the Merced and its tributaries is still well above average flow for early February; all the waterfalls are looking robust.
This high flow combined with cold nights to give us frazil ice in Yosemite Creek on Monday and Tuesday nights (and probably others). This is earlier than usual, but not unprecedented. We know that California temperatures have risen by 1.5 degrees C since 1880; there must've been much more frazil through the season back in Muir's day. That may be one reason he abandoned his cabin along Yosemite Creek and moved into his 'hang-nest' up high on the eaves of Hutching's sawmill.
You saw Steve's frazil ice video in the Yosemite Nature Notes series (which is funded by Yosemite Conservancy). He's out with his camera each evening right now working on a 'firefall' film. Watch for that one soon, or come up to the park in the next 2-3 weeks and take your chances on seeing the shining glow of Horsetail Fall at sunset yourself. Get out with a pro photographer in next weekend's Outdoor Adventure course for an improved chance of capturing this phenomenon for yourself before you see Steve's version on-line.